Pompeo: US Calls on India to Pivot Away From China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on India to work more deeply with the United States and be less dependent on China, according to a recorded video message for the virtual India Ideas Summit held on July 22.

“It’s important that democracies like ours work together, especially as we see more clearly than ever…the true scope of the challenge posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Pompeo said, according to a press release by the U.S. State Department.

The India Ideas Summit, a two-day event that began on Tuesday, was organized by the U.S.-India Business Council. The event included over 50 speakers, including India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ambassador of India to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu, U.S. Ambassador to India Ken Juster, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Pompeo highlighted the recent deadly clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the eastern Ladakh border region in June.

“The recent clashes initiated by the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] are just the latest examples of the CCP’s unacceptable behavior. We were deeply saddened by the death of 20 Indian service members,” Pompeo said.

The State Secretary urged India to be less dependent on Beijing, by moving “supply chains away from China and reduce its reliance on Chinese companies in areas like telecommunications, medical supplies, and others.”

Though Pompeo did not name any Chinese telecoms companies, the United States has been advocating for foreign governments to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from their 5G networks, citing security risks.

In a tweet in June, Pompeo applauded some telecoms companies, including India’s Reliance Jio, for being “Clean Telcos” and rejecting Huawei equipment. The United States has already banned Huawei from its 5G networks.

While India has not yet formally made a decision on Huawei, local business groups have called on their government to ban the Chinese giant. In early July, the Confederation of All India Traders wrote a letter to India’s Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, demanding a ban on Huawei and fellow Chinese tech giant ZTE from participating in India’s 5G networks, according to local media India Today.

On July 16, local newspaper The Times of India published an editorial, arguing that India should follow the decision by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in banning Huawei, announced two days earlier.

Pompeo applauded India’s recent decision to ban 59 mobile apps, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok, which “presents serious security risks for the Indian people.”

A U.S. Senate bill banning TikTok on government-issued devices passed unanimously through the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on Wednesday, and will next be placed before the Senate floor for a vote. On Tuesday, lawmakers in the House voted 336-71 to pass a similar bill.

Speaking of the current U.S.-India relationship, Pompeo said that India “is an important partner and a key pillar of President Trump’s foreign policy: multilateralism that actually works.”

“And I’m happy to report that India is a rising U.S. defense and security partner in the Indo-Pacific and globally,” he added.

On future bilateral ties, Pompeo said the United States “desires a new age of ambition” in its relationship with India and said he invited Modi to discuss how to “advance the economic prosperity network” at a future G-7 meeting.

Modi, during his address before the India Ideas Summit, urged U.S. investors to come to India, saying his country was “a nation that you can trust” with “increasing openness.”

“American investors often look out for the perfect timing to enter a sector or a country. To them, I would like to say: there has never been a better time to invest in India,” Modi said.

On Tuesday, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord told the India Ideas Summit, that the two countries were negotiating a co-development program for air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, according to local media PTI.

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